For those of you who don’t understand the dynamics of trial, moreover the “pas de deux” between prosecutors and defenders, allow me to underscore how you should not place any importance whatsoever upon the following:
Ethan Corlija met with AP writer Christopher Leonard today (Thursday) and stated that he is not interested in any plea deal Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks might offer his client, Michael J. Devlin, at this time.
Did you actually believe he would state otherwise? Come on, folks. Things are just getting going well in Missouri and we have miles upon miles upon miles to go before the first of Devlin’s three or four trials even begin.
All this means is the Defense has now entered the dance floor. To wit:
Prosecutor Robert Parks announced Tuesday that he and all the other jurisdictions have been getting together to form a plea agreement that they may soon offer Devlin, and that said agreement would include a stipulation for “several, several life sentences.” Parks and other prosecutors and the Feds want Devlin put away for the rest of his natural life. So do we. Parks also reiterated to reporters that this deal to come has not yet come to pass. Nothing offered yet, except by insinuation. Powerful stuff that.
Ethan Corlija may be young and relatively inexperienced, but he is unquestionably a rising star in the criminal defense world and was fairly well regarded (from what I’m told) in St. Louis well before the headache that is Devlin landed on his doorstep. In short, young Corlija is sharp as a brand new tack, as is his compadre, Michael Kielty.
Per Corlija to Leonard, Park’s heretofore untendered offer (so how exactly would he know what is offered…) would basically be the amount of imprisonment if Devlin were convicted of each and every charge levied against him at the maximum sentencing range.
“If in Bob Parks’ mind, he thinks that this is a reasonable plea negotiation or a reasonable plea agreement — we would certainly discourage our client from taking it. What’s the advantage?” Corlija said. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Corlija took those very words from one of a billion chat room conversations somewhere.
Proof of false brivado: Corlija stated he believes his chances in “winning some freedoms” for his client are better before a jury. Maybe, just maybe a jury would return concurrent sentences, instead of the consecutive ones Parks wants. In Corlija’s perfect world, if Devlin was convicted of say 25 of the 80+ state and federal charges levied against him so far, maybe a kind-hearted jury would let Devlin serve all of them at one time. Maybe, just maybe, Devlin could be released when he hits 70.
Have I missed some Global Warming threat to the ambient temperature in Hades lately…???
Don’t buy it folks, because even Corlija doesn’t. But he has to say stuff like that. It’s his responsibility to do so, even if he believes his client is the most egreggious monster ever to walk among us, which he probably personally does…except for the future profits Devlin will bring his firm and, on that point, Corlija loves him.
This is all part of the legal Pas de Deux.
What does this mean? Zippo. Nadda. Absolutely nothing. But it will serve as fodder for folks to blog about or argue upon in chat rooms and speculate as to the what-ifs.
Mark my words here: The evidentiary case alone against Devlin is overwhelming. I personally doubt there has ever gone before another defandant with as much physical evidence, moreover more damning testimony from victims, than Michael J. Devlin. I pray we never see another, but doubt that.
Corlija and Kielty are — despite any information they offer to the press to the contrary — between an exceptionally large granite boulder and a huge mile-thick wall of tungsten steel with this case. After kidnapping an 11-year-old innocent boy and spending the next four-and-a-half years sodomizing him, then getting bored, kidnapping another and sodomizing him for the next four days, their client has achieved the international infamy reserved heretofore for monsters like Jeffrey Dahmer. Unlike Dahmer, both of Devlin’s victims are alive and well. Even Shawn is slowly adjusting and reacquainting himself with a safe, happy life. Far from merely surviving his captivity, this young fellow has further found amazing strength in most willingly giving investigators incredible evidence against Devlin.
This case is, without exaggeration, a prosecutor’s wildest dream come true.
While the maternal and paternal instincts in all of us wants Shawn Hornbeck to be able to avoid having to testify, I have no doubt whatsoever that he is more than willing do so. He’s not eleven any more. And I bet he resents the loss of his intended life over the last four years more than all of us put together.
So, while Corlija and Kielty dangle the threat of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby having to testify, while they play media hardball with prosecutors, clearly understand that the greatest threat of all to their client IS Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby testifying before a jury.
And for those who might wonder why Devlin would ever agree to a plea agreement, allow me to add this: Devlin is a 300-pound sociopath who is terrified of adult relationships and gets his kicks out of terrorizing and hurting children. He will never, ever want to appear at a trial before his adult peers, whom he knows not only want to crucify him but have more evidence and compelling testimony than ever before to do so. Devlin just wants to crawl into a hole and forget this ever happened. Heck, he probably would rather roll back time to a year ago, when life was good…
Corlija and Kielty are well aware of this, but they have quite a bit of time to play their position up in the press. But when the dust settles, these two sharp attorneys will finally admit (by their actions in garnering their client’s acceptance to a plea agreement) that their client’s best deal possible lay with the deal itself and certainly not with a jury.
For a little light reading, Christopher Leonard’s story is here:
This short article in the Missourian underscores my points. Robert Parks is confused with Corlija’s response refusing a plea deal that has not even been tendered…